A NYTVF Development Initiative in Partnership with Participant Media

For the first time ever, NYTVF is partnering with Participant Media on Works for Progress, a unique development program designed to discover passionate indie television artists with projects that inspire social change. The program is open to completed projects and works-in-progress from scripted, documentary, and digital creators across the spectrum and is accepting produced pilots/series, scripts, and documentary series/sizzle reels for consideration.


2016 'Works for Progress' Semi-Finalists:


  • Ask for Jane – Created by Cait Johnston, Written by Rachel Carey (Drama)
  • Beard – Created by Andrea Janakas (Drama)
  • Biased – Created by Terrell Lawrence (Comedy)
  • Bronzeville – Created by Kafia Haile (Drama)
  • Finding the Werewolf – Created by Georgina Gonzalez and Rodrigo Iturralde (Unscripted/Doc)
  • Free Man – Created by Brandon Herman (Drama)
  • Homeland Insecurity – Created by Thomas Reyes (Comedy)
  • Immersion – Created by Jessica Mollo (Drama)
  • Living Wild – Created by Nicholas Stone Schearer (Unscripted/Doc)
  • The Mission – Created by Marie-Marguerite Sabongui and Benedict Moran (Comedy)
  • Osage – Created by Aaron Lewis and Aaron Thomas (Drama)
  • Pixie Dust – Created by Damon Colquhoun (Drama)
  • Sea Gypsies: The Northwest Passage – Created by Nico Edwards (Unscripted/Doc)
  • Switch – Created by Andrew Criss and Arian Moayed, Written by Arian Moayed (Drama)
  • The Ville – Created by Angela Harvey (Drama)


Submission Info


From the powerhouse media company that produced Academy Award-winners and nominees SPOTLIGHT, BRIDGE OF SPIES, LINCOLN, THE HELP, FOOD, INC., HE NAMED ME MALALA, CITIZENFOUR, and AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, along with small-screen favorites HITRECORD ON TV, PLEASE LIKE ME, and TRUTH AND POWER, comes an exclusive television development opportunity for artists looking to tell socially-relevant, cutting-edge stories for a 21st Century audience. Works for Progress is designed to engage and motivate indie television and digital artists to create television and digital series concepts that inspire social change through episodic storytelling.


To submit to the initiative, content creators and writers must submit a Creator/Project Mission Statement + Current C.V., a Series Overview, as well as their project in one of the following formats:

  • A produced pilot and/or series (up to 30 minutes) – accessible by link
  • or

  • A pilot episode script excerpt (up to twenty (20) pages for a half-hour program or forty (40) pages for an hour program) – accessible by PDF
  • or

  • A produced work-in-progress (e.g. sizzle reel, trailer, doc series footage, scene example, etc. minimum of six (6) minutes) – accessible by link


All video submissions must be accessible through a password-protected link.



A selection of semi-finalists will be selected by the NYTVF for consideration by Participant Media, who will then identify finalists for development meetings at the 2016 New York Television Festival. Finalists will each receive a travel stipend to attend the 2016 NYTVF (October 24-29, 2016) and all semi-finalists will be eligible to participate in the Festival as Official Artists and enjoy the benefits of NYTVF Connect. Participant, at their sole discretion, will identify at least one project for potential further development.


This competition is FREE to enter.


Questions? Ask the NYTVF.


Use the links below to explore the various aspects of submitting to the Works for Progress initiative.



As a partner of the 2016 New York Television Festival, Participant Media, a leading media company dedicated to entertainment that inspires and compels social change, is seeking socially relevant projects from independent artists. Submissions are open to produced pilots and series, scripts, and documentary series/sizzle reels.


Insight from Participant

Through Works for Progress, we're looking for episodic storytellers with high-quality projects that are commercially competitive with socially relevant points of view. To help you craft your submission, check out the following “buckets” we typically utilize when assessing ideas for development:


Current Events (Scripted)

Of-the-moment true stories that speak to systemic or trending issues.

  • Participant-produced examples: SPOTLIGHT, BEASTS OF NO NATION, PLEASE LIKE ME, the upcoming DENIAL


Historical Events and People (Scripted)

An examination of history through a contemporary lens.

  • Participant-produced example: BRIDGE OF SPIES
  • Additional example: SELMA


Cautionary Tales (Scripted)

Often harder-edged or genre entertainment, like disaster, action, or sci-fi, presenting scenarios of "something terrible happened”, "could happen”, or “is happening” – with a focus on causation.

  • Participant-produced example: CONTAGION, the upcoming DEEPWATER HORIZON


Gentle Persuaders (Scripted)

These stories may not look like issue-based entertainment on the surface, but they take relevant ideas and wrap them in often feel-good packages – think of them as “gentle persuaders”.

  • Participant-produced example: THE HELP


Ambitious Projects and Literary Source Material (Scripted)

Free radical concepts with a remarkable voice and conscience behind the storytelling.

  • Participant-produced examples: SYRIANA, A MOST VIOLENT YEAR, MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, the upcoming A MONSTER CALLS


Documentary Series (Unscripted)

A story well told can change the world. Primarily seeking character-driven, contemporary stories for documentary series that have urgency and key into issues bubbling up today and tomorrow. Creators must bring vision, innovative storytelling and intimate access to the subject. Open to concepts across a wide range of topics including, but not limited to: the environment, climate change, food and water resources, education, women’s rights, government transparency, inequality and social justice.



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  • All semi-finalists will be named Official Artists of the 2016 New York Television Festival and will be eligible to participate in NYTVF Connect
  • Finalists will be given a travel stipend to attend the 2016 New York Television Festival and will be guaranteed a meeting with Participant during the event
  • Winner will be selected to potentially further develop their project with Participant

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  • Submission Upload Opens: August 29 (12 pm EST)
  • Submission Upload Closes: September 8 (12 pm EST)
  • Semi-Finalists Announced: Late September
  • Finalists Announced: Early October
  • 2016 New York Television Festival: October 24-29, 2016

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  • Entrants must be 18 years of age or older and legal residents of the fifty (50) United States or the District of Columbia
  • Entrants cannot have been employed by either New York Television Festival or Participant Media/Pivot in the past six months
  • Entries must be:
    • Completely the original work of the entrant
    • Not created or funded by broadcast networks, cable networks, digital platforms, or major production studios
    • Not copied from any other source or previously broadcast or otherwise distributed or disseminated on television
    • Not in the public domain
    • Not in violation of or conflict with the trademark, copyright, rights of privacy, rights of publicity or any other rights, of any kind or nature, of any other person or entity
    • Entries must be submitted on this website page in the form of a password protected link.

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  • Creator and project mission statement + Current C.V. (Up to two pages)
  • Series Overview (Up to four pages)
  • One of the following:
    • A produced pilot and/or series (up to 30 minutes) – accessible by link
    • or

    • A pilot episode script excerpt (up to twenty (20) pages for a half-hour program or forty (40) pages for an hour program) – accessible by PDF
    • or

    • A produced work-in-progress (e.g. sizzle reel, trailer, doc series footage, scene example, etc. minimum of six (6) minutes) – accessible by link

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Click on the questions below to read the answers. If you have any further questions, please contact us directly at ASK NYTVF.

Works for Progress 101:

Q: Can I submit the same project to Works for Progress that I submitted to the Independent Pilot Competition and/or NYTVF Scripts this year?

A: Yes, but only if your project was not chosen as an Official Selection in either the IPC or NYTVF Scripts this year. If your project was chosen as an Official Selection in another NYTVF initiative this year, you are not eligible to submit that same project.

Q: Are international submissions eligible?

A: No. Anyone who submits to Works for Progress must be a legal resident of the United States and/or the District of Columbia and at least 18 years of age.

Q: Does the NYTVF offer feedback on pilot submissions?

A: Due to the volume of submissions received, the NYTVF, in accordance with our Selection Committee, does not offer feedback on submissions.  

Q: Can I submit more than one project to Works for Progress?

A: Yes, absolutely.

Q: Can I send in a rough cut or project that is a ‘work-in-progress’?

A: You can definitely submit a rough cut or work-in-progress. Produced works-in-progress can be a sizzle reel, trailer, doc series footage, scene example, etc. with a minimum length of six (6) minutes and a maximum of 30 minutes. These materials must be accessible by link, which will be included with your other submission materials. You also have the ability to submit a script excerpt in lieu of produced work.

Q: How is Works for Progress affected by Participant’s announcement that its TV network, Pivot, is being phased out?

A: Works for Progress will not be affected at all. Participant is still very much in the hunt for content for all platforms and is engaged, excited, and motivated to meet with great new voices at this year’s NYTVF.

Entry Materials:

Q: What do I need to include with my submission?

A: There are 3 pieces to your submission materials:

  • 1. A creator and project mission statement + current C.V. (up to two (2) pages)
  • 2. An overview for an original series (up to four (4) pages)
  • 3. And any ONE (1) of the following:
    • Produced pilot and/or series (up to 30 minutes) – accessible by link
    • Pilot episode script excerpt (up to twenty (20) pages for a half-hour program or forty (40) pages for an hour program) - uploaded as PDF
    • Produced work-in-progress [e.g. sizzle reel, trailer, doc series footage, scene example, etc. with a minimum length of six (6) minutes an a maximum length of thirty (30) minutes]. – accessible by link

Q: How in-depth should my series overview be?

A: Your series overview can be as in-depth or brief as you would like. We recommend at least submitting an overview of the main characters or individuals and an outline for Season 1. However, it’s up to you to decide what information best represents your proposed series. 

Q: My script is longer than the allotted 20 pages (half-hour program) or 40 pages (hour-long program).

A: If your script exceeds the 20- or 40-page limit (not including the title page), the selection committee reserves the right to read the first 20 or 40 pages alone and make evaluations based on the content included therein. The Selection Committee may also return to the creator and ask that the script be edited to fit the page restrictions in order for it to be chosen as a finalist. This is meant to be an excerpt – not a completed script (for both 20- and 40-page script submissions).

Q: My produced tape runs over 30 minutes. Is it eligible for consideration?

A: In the occasion that projects run long, the Selection Committee reserves the right to watch the first 30 minutes alone and make evaluations based on the content included therein. It may also return to the creator and ask that the program be edited to fit the time restrictions in order for it to be chosen as a finalist.

Q: What should be included in my creator and project mission statement?

A: What’s included in your mission statement is entirely up to you, but it should include some reasoning as to why your story needs to be told and why you are the one to tell it.

Q: What is a “C.V.”?

A: A C.V., or “curriculum vitae”, is an overview of a writer/creator’s past work and accomplishments, similar to a biography or resume.

Intellectual property, copyright, and broadcast standards:

Q: What prevents the NYTVF, or any attendees, from stealing my ideas?

A: Anyone who has ever pitched an idea in the entertainment business is mindful of having ideas stolen. The NYTVF offers unique protection for independent creators attempting to promote their work by providing an open marketplace in which to showcase their talent. At the Festival, hundreds of industry figures will see your name attached to your project, and this degree of visibility offers far more protection of your idea than you would have in conventional channels such as a pitch meeting. 

Q: If I’m submitting a script, does the script need to be registered or copyrighted?

A: No. However, it is recommended. The following resources may assist you in copyrighting and/or registering your script: U.S. Copyright Office, Writer's Guild of America. 

Q: Can I submit my content to other festivals or script competitions?

A: Yes. However, the NYTVF does place a premium on work that has not yet been widely available to industry decision-makers.

Q: Can I re-submit a project I have submitted to a sponsored initiative or other competition with the NYTVF in the past?

A: Yes, as long as the project (or subsequent work resulting from or based on that project) has not entered into development with a network or studio. All submitters must have full legal rights to the projects they submit to the NYTVF.

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